On the eve of World AIDS Day 2015 with the purpose to support adolescents living with HIV, UN agencies in Uzbekistan launched an essay contest with the overarching theme of “My Positive Life!”. To participate in the contest, the UN invited adolescents living with HIV between the ages of 10 to 19. On 12 January 2016 the award ceremony for best essays took place at the United Nations Office in Uzbekistan. UN Resident Coordinator in Uzbekistan Mr. Stefan Priesner emphasized these adolescents’ courage, strength of spirit and their commitment to be active members of the society. He stressed that in order to improve the support currently provided to HIV-positive youth, the United Nations and all organizations working in this area need to hear the voices of adolescents and to understand their needs and aspirations.
After the ceremony, UNICEF Representative in Uzbekistan Mr. Robert Fuderich asked the participants what career paths they would like to take. With confidence and without the slightest doubt, each one of them stated the profession of their dreams. Mr. Priesner was surprised that already at this early age, young people had a concrete plan for their future. In that case, he highlighted, each of them will definitely be able to achieve their goals. Mr. Fuderich also expressed his conviction that the evident talents and dedication of these adolescents will soon lead them to great success. Mr. Komiljon Akhmedov, a representative of the UNAIDS Country Office in Uzbekistan, reiterated the activity and leadership skills of the adolescents.
The adolescents, in their turn, expressed gratitude for this attention from the United Nations and for the opportunity to tell someone about their lives, to ponder and understand their own dreams and priorities, to chart their own path to achieve them, and most importantly – to share their thoughts with the readers and be heard.
Many of these adolescents living with HIV are members of an innovative peer education project, which is supported by UN agencies in Uzbekistan.
Below you can read the 1st place essay! Once again congratulations to our winner!
My advice to boys living with HIV!!
I am 17 years old. Since 2006 I have been living with HIV. Now I am taking antiretroviral therapy (ART). ART plays a big role in my life because this medicine assures my longevity. Since 2012 I have been a member of the adolescent support group and actively taken part in consulting and supporting my peers. In this group, I have been working on a “peer to peer” basis. Trying to use my time with benefit, the group’s curator and I give guidance and teach useful skills to children from orphanages who have HIV. People living with HIV should be engaged in meaningful and purposeful activities. The presence of true friends and loved ones is of great importance in the life of a person living with HIV. Help and support of such people gives courage and reduces the negative impact of stress on the immune system. The absence of people’s support has a negative impact on the general condition of the person and is the impetus for a rapid deterioration of health. People with HIV-positive status have the same right to live with future plans as HIV-negative people.
I would say the following to every peer and to all my unmet friends:
My unmet friends!!
I do not know who you are, how old you are and what you are up to now. I do not know how you lived before or how you live now, but I can say with confidence that happy, joyful days are on their way to you! You are going through trials of your destiny, but I believe in you, you will surely find strength for this. I also believe that you will be able to turn the difficulties encountered on your way to your benefit, to improve your life and become the best person. Because how you live your life depends on you alone. Only Allah knows how long we will live, but you should learn to enjoy life and joyfully appreciate its every moment.
Appreciate every step! Appreciate every breath! Appreciate every day, every hour!
Learn to love and to be able to forgive!
Do not regret anything, live rejoicing! Dream and try to achieve your dreams!
You are strong! Do not stray from your path, listen to your conscience! Be an individual!
Appreciate life and the most important thing: do not ever fall into despair, everything will be alright!
I am happy and follow my huge dreams, I believe that YOU CAN DO THIS TOO!